Jimmies men's basketball looks to make another deep run
Jimmies start their campaign Thursday, Oct. 21, at Dickinson State.
Coming off a trip to the elite eight, the University of Jamestown men’s basketball team looks to have another successful season. The Jimmies start their season when they make the trip to Dickinson State University. The game is set to take place at the Scott Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21.
The team has a veteran roster with seven upperclassmen, all while bringing in a big freshman class that includes two former NCAA players, John Argue and Cooper Olson. Olson will redshirt this year according to head coach Danny Neville.
In his first two seasons, Marc Kjos averaged 8.1 points per game. Last season, Kjos' average rose to 11.8 points per game. As a result of his steady improvement, Jimmies head coach Danny Neville expects him to be the Jimmies breakout player this season.
“I think we have a lot of guys in that position. If you look at Marc Kjos, he’s gotten a lot better since the beginning of last year to the beginning of this year,” Neville said. “He’s developed a lot and gotten a lot better. Will Cordes is another guy that’s developed and gotten better as well.”
Jamestown will be helped by reigning 1st Team All American Mason Walters, who led the team in scoring last season averaging 22 points per game. Another key returner will be Tanner Slag, who after graduating last spring, joins Neville's staff as a grad assistant.
Despite the accolades, Walters is not concerned with anything past the game against Dickinson.
"It would be pretty cool," Walters said. "Right now, I'm not worried about that, just trying to win one game at a time. Take it day by day and just keep getting better."
The Jimmies compiled a 22-9 record last season and beat the then No. 3 team in the country in the second round of the NAIA tournament on their way to an elite eight appearance. It was the Jimmies' first trip to the elite eight since the 2003-04 season. During that season, the Jimmies started 4-0 and won eight of their first 10, something that Neville hopes they repeat this year.
“It’s going to be a battle. We play really good teams. This year will be a little bit different, we will just have a target on our back,” Neville said. “That’s ok for us, we’re just going to have a target on our back and again we’ve worked and these guys have done a good job of staying together and playing together.”
The Jimmies and the Blue Hawks have played 33 times since 2005 with the Jimmies owning a 33-14 record. The Jimmies are currently riding a five game winning streak in the series. The last time these two teams played was on Dec. 9, 2019, in a game that saw the Jimmies winning 101-89.
In the 2021-22 GPAC Preseason Poll, the Jimmies were picked to finish second behind Morningside. The vote was tight, with the Mustangs garnering six first-place votes, ahead of Jamestown's five.
“It’s a thing that the preseason rankings don’t mean a whole lot, it’s the end ranking that means the most,” Neville said.